Vancouver pharmacists implicated in doping scandal
By Adam Tatelman, Staff Writer
Making a career within professional sports is a here-today, gone-tomorrow aspiration. The athletes themselves are depreciating commodities. As they age, their performance deteriorates, so they have only a few chances to reach their goals, such as league awards like the Super Bowl or the Stanley Cup, or medals in international competitions such as the Olympics. As a result, organized sport has evolved strict enforcement against performance-enhancing drug (PED) use. According to The Dark Side, a new documentary by media outlet Al Jazeera, pharmacists and doctors play a critical role in circumventing those regulations.
Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit employed international-level British hurdler Liam Collins to contact various pharmacists over a six-month period. Collins claimed he was willing to “do whatever it takes” to qualify for the upcoming Rio Olympics. He received performance enhancing substances from Vancouver pharmacist Chad Robertson and naturopath Brandon Spletzer, among others, as well as advice from them on how to cheat the Olympic testing system. Neither knew that Collins had surreptitiously recorded everything they told him.
Robertson is also alleged to have supplied NFL players with illegal drugs, namely Green Bay Packers’ linebackers Mike Neal and Clay Matthews. “I’m not going to lie to you,” said Robertson during a recorded phone conference with Collins, “Have I doped people? Oh, yeah. And no one’s got caught because the system’s so easy to beat.” Robertson went on to claim that he could take anyone with ‘average genetics’ and turn them into ‘a world champion.’”
Robertson later met with Collins, offering a plan including human chorionic gonadotrophin—a testosterone booster—and “ten injections a day in some cases.” Unaware that he was being recorded with a hidden camera, Robertson also recommended Collins meet with Brandon Spletzer, his prospective business partner and Yaletown Sage Clinic naturopath.
Before giving Collins substances, which he supposedly had acquired under an assumed name, Spletzer outlined his method for destroying evidence. “Put it this way—I’m not really writing anything down. If you really want to go Black Ops, so to speak, I can just document everything not in this chart but on my own chart. And if anybody ever comes sniffing for it, it’s very easy to delete and say no, this is the real chart—if say, WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) comes sniffing around.” Following the publication of Al Jazeera’s documentary, Spletzer’s name was removed from Sage Clinic’s website.
Collins also met with Charlie Sly, an American pharmacist who claimed to have provided Peyton Manning, of the Denver Broncos, with Human Growth Hormone (HGH) to help him recover from neck fusion surgery in 2011. Sly also implicated baseball players Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Howard as Delta 2 steroid users. Sly has since recanted his assertions, claiming that he “was in no state of mind to be making any coherent statements as I was grieving the death of my fiancée.”
Manning appeared on ESPN, offering the details of his 35-day treatment through nutrient therapy and use of a hyperbaric chamber. “Anything else this guy is insinuating is complete garbage,” said Manning. Dr. Gale Guyer of the Guyer Institute made a statement to sports site Bleacher Report supporting Manning’s claims. Zimmerman, Howard, Neal, and Matthews have also denied the allegations made against them.